Their Life’s Blood


“In the old days, we used to empty the sap buckets by hand into big ol’ vats on sled runners, instead of runnin’ through all this tube stuff that makes the damn trees look like my uncle Edwin when he was on life support,” the oldtimer said to his grandson.

“We’re just maximizing our resources, Gramps, and making the most from what we’ve got here in the sugarbush,” the young ag-school graduate replied.

“Just ain’t natural to suck the life’s blood from these old trees with a vacuum pump when the rest of the process hasn’t changed that much since the Micmacs  and Abenaki cut the old ones’ bark with hatchets like this, and put the spirit sap to the boil even before the first white man set foot in these mountains,” said the grandfather and limped away.

“Yeah, well, if the Micky-mackies had vacuum pumps like this maybe they would have been able to get forty bucks a gallon for Vermont Grade A Amber from the Frenchies and they’d still be here, wouldn’t they, Gramps?”

As the oldtimer and his grandson trudged down the hill from the sugarbush, the grandfather thought he saw the pained faces of the old ones within the clouds of sweet-smelling steam from the boiling shack and thought, Forgive him, my friends, he don’t know no better and probably will never realize you’re still here until after the great Axeman takes this old believer to join you, too.

Here’s another combo platter of a short-short based on my friend Heather Grace Stewart’s prompt of the maple sugar harvest and Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction suggestion of the concept of ACHE. And then, son of a gun if my dear friend Kellie Elmore didn’t use that photo up there up for her Free Write Friday prompt, asking me to tell his story. And I did.

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